Creating better experiences
Good ad experiences help the web thrive, funding the sites and services loved by millions. Unfortunately, however, people often encounter bad and disruptive ads on the web — ads that blare music unexpectedly, or force a user to wait 10 seconds before moving onto the next page. These types of frustrating experiences can lead someone to block all ads, and if they do, then publishers on the web can suffer.
69% of people surveyed said that they were motivated to install ad blockers by annoying or intrusive ads.
To get to the bottom of what makes an ad annoying, [The Coalition for Better Ads](https://www.betterads.org), an industry organization dedicated to improving online advertising, conducted extensive research on consumers’ preferences for online ads. Thanks to the [Coalition's analysis](https://www.betterads.org/research/), we can see which ads people prefer the least. The good news is people don’t dislike all ads, so developing your ad into a more positive experience can make a huge difference.
For example, 85% of mobile users said they found anchor ads (which stick to the bottom of your screen as you scroll) only slightly annoying or not annoying at all.1
What kinds of ads don’t perform as well?
- Ads that Interrupt — Imagine clicking a breaking news article and an ad forces you to wait 10 seconds before you can read it. Ads that disrupt the flow of information, particularly on mobile devices, are generally ranked as the most annoying. Research finds that 74% of mobile users find ads that interrupt access to content (like pop-ups) very irritating.2
- Ads that Distract — It only takes a few seconds for people to decide whether your site is worth their time. Flashing animations and ads that play sound automatically distract people during those critical first few seconds, and could to site abandonment. These experiences are extremely disruptive in both desktop and mobile web environments.
- Ads that Clutter — When a page is bogged down with ads it takes longer to load, and this makes it harder for people to find what they're looking for. High-density ad displays on mobile devices create slower experiences than sites with less-dense ads and similar creative assets.
50% of users surveyed said they would not revisit or recommend a page that had a pop-up ad.
A closer look at ads on mobile
Mobile browsing is all about speed and convenience, so any experience that makes it harder to focus on the content in a small mobile window will likely bother mobile users. Based on the Coalition's extensive research, we now can understand what kinds of ad experiences are more or less annoying for consumers.
Instead of pop-up ads, consider using a simple full-screen inline ad. They offer the same amount of screen real estate without covering up content.
Making someone wait to access content — like with a prestitial ad with a countdown — creates a much more negative experience. Consider using a dismissible postitial ad instead, which allows users initial access to your content before seeing the ad.
Both of these alternatives are preferable, but shouldn’t necessarily be used on every page. The best experiences for consumers are ads that seamlessly exist with content, like small ads that stick to the top or bottom of the screen. A good example is the full-screen in-line ad (as seen below), which offers a large canvas without covering up content.
A closer look at desktop ads
On desktops, users like to maintain control over their experience, so they usually dislike any obstacles to controlling the flow of information.
If you want to offer advertisers a large canvas, “takeover ads” that border the main content of the entire screen are a great alternative to pop-ups or prestitials with countdowns. You could also consider an easily dismissible prestitial without a countdown. These ads don’t take control from the audience, making them less disruptive.
Placement and layout are also important on desktops, where the greater screen real estate changes how people interact with content. Large sticky ads on the bottom are ranked the least preferred by consumers, so try a sticky ad on a side rail instead. Good alternatives include takeover ads (as seen below), which seamlessly integrate with content without getting in the way.
Three golden rules for building better experiences
Building better ad experiences starts with understanding what users care about on your site, no matter how they access it. It’s best not to obstruct the attention of your audience, so try to give them respectful ads that enhance their experience. Here are three things to keep in mind:
- Be Immediate. People are more likely to engage when ads load fast and don't slow down content. By applying the AMP framework to advertising, AMP Ads offer a more efficient way to build, serve, and measure responsive ads. With ads that loaded six times faster, Time Inc. saw 13% greater viewability and an increase in cost per thousand impressions (CPMs) click-through rates (CTRs).
- Be Immersive. Ad experiences that seamlessly blend with a user's content experience are less likely to annoy them. Native advertising offers the opportunity to deliver ads that fit the form and function of your site's content. Responsive native ads can even scale across devices and screens. The New York Times saw an increase of six times in CTRs and four times viewable impressions with native ads vs. standard banner ads.
- Be Relevant. Programmatic technology allows advertisers and publishers to deliver more relevant ads based on consumers’ interests, helping them stay more engaged on your site.